Calling all millennials. Calling all millennials. Why aren’t you living in trailer parks?
I know this is a rather bizarre question to direct towards our beloved millennials, but hear me out. I did a quick Craigslist search of cheap rentals in my area, and, by far, the cheapest options were trailers. Pictured below is one of the dozen or so rentals that were listed for under $500 per month. It’s not luxury living by any means, but it’s not hideous either. And it strikes me as a rather attractive housing option for a young person starting out.
Worst Case Scenario
Let’s suppose for a moment that you’re a millennial. You recently graduated high school and you’re working full-time in a warehouse making $10 an hour. Let’s further suppose that your best friend is in a similar position financially. He or she has a high-school diploma and has a full-time job paying $10 an hour. Is it possible for both of you to move out of your parents’ homes and still manage to save $500 a month each?
Well, if you and your friend move into the above trailer, it certainly is. Let’s look at the numbers.
|Full-time job - $10/hour||$20,800||$1,733.33|
|Health Insurance Premiums ($225/month subsidy)||$900.00||$75.00|
|Rent (Water, Sewer, and Lawn Maintenance Included)||$2,700.00||$225.00|
|Amount Left for Saving/Investing||$6,173.80||$514.48|
According to my calculations, someone working full-time at $10 per hour will earn $20,800 for the year. To live in the above trailer and cover all of your annual expenses—including a little beer money—you’ll need $14,616.20. This will leave you with $514.48 per month to save or invest.
So it can be done. But there’s one important caveat. You can’t own a car. Own a car and that $500 per month saving potential is out the window. The cost of insurance, maintenance, repairs, and gas will be too dear. You’ll be lucky to save $100 per month.
A Better Case Scenario
Now let’s consider some more rosy scenarios. What if you got a better job and were making $14 per hour? What if you got a side-hustle that brought in an extra $500 per month after taxes? What if you got a bachelor’s degree and were making $43K per year, the median salary for a recent college graduate? You would certainly be able to save more than $500 per month if you lived in the above trailer with an employed buddy. In fact, with just a little moxie, it wouldn’t be too difficult to up your savings rate to $1,000 per month. Heck, you’ll even be able to ditch the bicycle and get a car.
If you’re a millennial, and you’d rather not live in your parents’ basement or under the nearest overpass, your most affordable housing option out there is the much maligned trailer. And it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. We’re talking rents of $200-$250 per month (assuming you have a trailer-mate). Are you freakin’ kidding me? What a great opportunity to get out of debt, save for a house, or stuff money into your Roth IRA.
Overcoming Your Ego
Look, I get why the typical millennial shudders at the thought of residing in a trailer park. I certainly didn’t want to live in a trailer when I was young. But that was largely because I was an ignorant snob. When I thought of a trailer park, the image that came to my mind was a trailer park like the one depicted in the below video.
But not all trailer parks are nasty. I realized this once I moved down to North Carolina and I actually saw trailer parks. Some are very nice. It all depends on who is occupying the trailer park. If the people living there are emotionally, socially, and financially damaged, the place will be scary. If the people living there are thriving emotionally, socially, and financially, the place will be one of the coolest communities around. Take a look at the video below. Millionaire CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, lives in a trailer. How freakin’ cool is that!
Young people can make anything hip. When I was young, we made the Doors hip. The generation that came after mine made Tony Bennett hip. Heck, young people a few years ago turned a mundane beer from Milwaukee into an iconic cultural statement. So why can’t they change the image of the lowly trailer park—make it the default housing option of the up-and-coming rather than the last refuge of the down-and-out?
Okay, groovy millennials, what do you think? Are you up for trailer-park chic? Or would you rather remain in your parents’ basement and bemoan the lack of high-paying jobs?